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Of disruptive innovation, crowds, moonshots – and industrialized business service operations

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Gianni Giacomelli

Chief Innovation Leader

April 4, 2013 - This is not an ordinary “innovation boot camp” story – and for those familiar with the work of Clayton Christensen, it is worth reading through to the bottom…  

On Friday we were given the opportunity to talk about Genpact in front of a group of CXOs and senior executives of Global 500 gathered in Silicon Valley, and engaged in a week of exposure to “disruptive technologies and trends”. The event was organized by two of the most polarizing innovation entities out there today: the XPrize Foundation, perhaps well known for popularizing space tourism; and the Singularity University - related to futurologist Ray Kurzweil, known to the initiated by his theory of exponential growing technology, at some point in the near future reaching an inflection point where lots of stuff would happen…not least humans being augmented by machines and machines becoming more intelligent than men.  

These are the guys who take the “moonshots”, big hairy bets destined to change the world.  

Before discarding all this as Silicon Valley grade Cool-aid, do remember that these folks attract significant investments, the attention of very large companies (Google, Shell, Dow, Nokia, Sprint etc.) and ultimately Ray has become a top honcho at Google.  

Our story was initially about how using crowdsourcing helps our business service process work, and how the industrialized operations that we build can help better crowdsourcing initiatives, such as the MIT one engaged in finding solutions for climate change. We turned it into a discussion on how parts of business processes can be performed in very different ways these days, and provided a bunch of examples – revolving around what Genpact SolutionXchange  has done to enhance our operations by enabling better design – for example in the case of analytics.  

But the key point we drove home is that business process management started out at the bottom of the cost/complexity matrix, taking over simple processes at low cost. Over time, it moved upmarket thanks to increased quality of the “industrialized ops” (thanks to HR and org design practices, metrics, technology, and data-driven process). It has constantly chipped away parts of increasingly complex processes – just look at our own innovation portfolio.  

Over time, the low end of our own wave might very well be disrupted by other forces – for example, pervasive automation and artificial intelligence. That is why we keep looking out for the next innovation, and the occasional moonshot. None can stand still – Christensen’s theory still applies here.

Please share your view. Feel free to connect with me on twitter@ggiacomelli.